Many employers will put an emphasis on attracting staff through good salary packages, lots of perks, an appealing company ethos and family-friendly flexible working options.
However, all of this might be negated by a lack of scope for career progression. If you do not have this, you may be caught out at the interview stage by a candidate who asks about the topic.
Moreover, those you do manage to recruit may find the lack of a clear plan amounts to a barrier to progress, and conclude they are better off going elsewhere for their next steps.
Why one-size-fits all fits almost nobody
The problem at many firms is that they apply a one-size-fits-all approach. This means an assumption that anyone who stays with the firm for a certain length of time will want to progress up to management level. The problem with this, of course, is that while this might work perfectly for some, because it matches their ambitions exactly, it cannot be for all. By definition, there are more managers than lower-ranked staff in a company, so it is arithmetically impossible. Moreover, not everyone has management ambitions.
As a result, many members of staff will have their own ideas for how they want to progress, but work for a firm that has no plan or structure that can help fulfil them. This could leave workers unable to develop the skills they want. Such staff may either stay and feel frustrated and discontented, or find a solution with another employer.
Tailor policies to the individual
The right way to plan a career structure is to recognise where your sector is going and what skills will be useful in the future. The chances are this will include a range of skills, so it is important to allow staff scope to choose which areas they most want to develop in.
Another area that needs to be considered is age. A dangerous and lazy assumption employers might make is that the fresh, young graduate straight out of university is the person with the most ambition and ideas about where they want to go, while older workers are simply settled into their role and have half an eye on retirement.
While this may be true in some cases, often the reverse is the case; many younger workers might not have yet fully figured out what they want to do. Older staff, on the other hand, will have a better knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. This could prompt them to try a change of career and they might also have some unfulfilled ambitions.
Indeed, a report by the Centre for Ageing Better recently stated that while employers tend to do well in helping older staff financially plan for retirement, they are not as effective in dealing with other matters.
Some of those concern issues like wellbeing and the psychological effects of approaching retirement age, but the report also noted that plans to fulfil career ambitions and shape how individuals will use the later years of their working life are also being neglected.
Reap the rewards of smarter career development
For a career development policy to be effective, it must offer a range of options. Be flexible to encompass the ideas of the individual worker and appreciate that career development is not just about more money or status.
By being open, agile and not seeking to shoehorn people into a predetermined framework, firms may find they identify far better ways to develop their staff, and gain more loyalty and commitment from them in the process.
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